Across the Lawn – May 26, 2023

May 26, 2023  

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Raise Your Hand Texas has a front-row seat to the Capitol. From our vantage point, public education policy issues have never been more important, and this is why we must make every session a public education session.

One Thing To Do: Check Your Voter Registration Status 

During the legislative session, it’s lawmakers who get to vote – but during election season that power will shift to you. Whether you’re pleased or frustrated by the results of this session, you’ll have an opportunity to make your voice heard during the 2024 elections. Check your voter registration status to make sure you’re ready.

Four Things To Know:

1. State Budget Ready for Final Approval, Teacher Pay and School Funding Approaches $4 Billion Increase, $500 Million Set Aside for Vouchers, but Major Hurdles Still Remain

Only three days remain in the 88th Legislative Session and our public schools and teachers are as uncertain about the future of teacher pay and school funding as they were almost 140 days ago. While the conference committee report for HB 1 (state budget) was released, putting price tags on certain education policy issues, the funding is contingent upon legislation being passed. And so far passing those bills has been a problem.  

HB 1 sets aside $3.9 billion for school funding formula increases and teacher compensation, $500 million for a voucher program, $500 million for statewide curriculum, and $300 million for increases to the school safety allotment (with another $1.1 billion provided for school safety grants in the supplemental budget).     

The issue of how the $4.9 billion will flow to schools and teachers is the biggest hurdle and it is all due to whether or not there will be a voucher program in Texas. The Senate amended the House’s school funding bill, HB 100, with a voucher program. And what seemed to be a good rebuttal to the Senate’s action this week, the House gave preliminary approval for a $1,000 basic allotment increase which was approved 116-24 on the House floor. This amendment was added to SB 9, the teacher workforce bill. Unfortunately, SB 9 was postponed past the last day of the session by its author on final approval the next day, effectively killing the bill. Now, just HB 100 (school funding) remains as the last vehicle out of the session with any chance of increasing teacher pay or school funding. The House named its conferees for HB 100 on Thursday night: Rep. King, Rep. Buckley, Rep. Ashby, Rep. VanDeaver, and Rep. Longoria.  

Raise Your Hand Texas believes with tens of billions of dollars available to state lawmakers this session, the state should set its sights on increasing the Basic Allotment instead of diverting much-needed resources away from our public schools.

2. School Safety Standards and Funding Bill Goes to Conference Committee 

HB 3 by Rep. Burrows will be the legislative vehicle for school safety funding and reform after the House postponed the Senate’s school safety bill, SB 11. HB 3 is in conference committee, and the report will need to be distributed by midnight Saturday. The major difference between the House and Senate version is the amount of the current $9.72 per student safety allotment. The House version provides a $100 per student allotment and an additional $15,000 per campus with the requirement for armed security personnel on every campus. The Senate provides a $10 per student allotment and an additional $15,000 per campus with no requirement for armed security personnel. HB 1 provides a glimpse at the funding outcome of this negotiation. With only $300 million appropriated for the next biennium in HB 1 for school safety, it appears the school safety allotment will be set at $10 per student and $15,000 per campus.  

3. School District Tax Relief to Exceed $17 Billion, Increasing the State Share of Public Education Funding 

A narrative has developed within the Texas Capitol that the state share of school funding may increase to over 50% due to the actions taken this legislative session related to property tax relief. It is important to note that while property tax relief does increase the state share of public school funding, it does not provide any new funding for our public schools. Just because the state share of school funding increases does not mean the state is increasing per-student funding for public schools. The Legislature is proposing $5.3 billion in automatic tax compression due to policies passed in 2019 and another $12.3 billion in new property tax relief contingent upon SB 3. The proposed state budget sets aside $3.9 billion for school funding formulas.  

School funding will remain stagnant unless school formulas are increased. As of May 26, 2023, the Legislature has yet to act on any school funding formula increases.  

4. Other Bills of Interest

Raise Your Hand Texas is tracking about 100 public education bills that can still become law after the 88th Legislative Session. Here are a few of the major bills still under consideration: 

  • SB 3 by Sen. Bettencourt (school district property tax) relating to an increase in the amount of the exemption of residence homesteads from ad valorem taxation by a school district, an adjustment in the amount of the limitation on school district ad valorem taxes is in conference committee
  • SB 8 by Sen.Creighton (vouchers) relating to public education, including parental rights and public school responsibilities regarding instructional materials and the establishment of an education savings account program left pending in the House Public Education Committee
  • SB 9 by Sen. Creigton (teacher workforce) relating to the rights, certification, and compensation of public school educators and assistance provided to public schools by the Texas Education Agency related to public school educators pronounced dead by procedural action 
  • SB 10 by Sen. Huffman (TRS cost of living and 13th check) relating to benefits paid by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas remains in conference committee 
  • SB 17 by Sen. Creighton (higher education DEI) relating to public higher education reform passed by both the House and Senate
  • SB 18 by Sen. Creighton (higher education tenure) relating to tenure and employment status at public institutions of higher education in this state passed by both the House and Senate
  • SB 763 by Sen. Middleton (chaplains) relating to allowing school districts to employ chaplains to perform the duties of school counselors reported from its conference committee and already approved by the House 
  • SB 1515 by Sen. King (10 Commandments) relating to the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools was not heard on the House floor before the Tuesday deadline and is dead by lack of action
  • SB 1861 by Sen. Bettencourt relating to the provision of virtual education in public schools and to certain waivers and modifications by the commissioner of education to the method of calculating average daily attendance pronounced dead by procedural action
  • HB 100 by Rep. King (school funding and vouchers) relating to the compensation of public school educators and to the public school finance system, including enrollment-based funding for certain allotments under the Foundation School Program was passed by both House and Senate and is awaiting a conference committee
  • HB 681 by Rep. Bell (virtual education) relating to virtual and off-campus electronic instruction at a public school, the satisfaction of teacher certification requirements through an internship teaching certain virtual courses
  • HB 890 by Rep. Bell (grievances, parental rights, ISD student transfer) relating to school district hearings regarding complaints was passed by both the House and Senate and is awaiting a conference committee
  • HB 1416 by Rep. Bell relating to accelerated instruction provided to public school students who fail to achieve satisfactory performance on certain assessment instrument sent to the Governor
  • HB 900 by Rep. Patterson (library catalog) relating to the regulation of books sold to or included in public school libraries was passed by both the House and Senate 
  • HB 1605 by Rep. Buckley (state curriculum) Relating to instructional material and technology, the adoption and revision of essential knowledge and skills of the public school foundation curriculum, and creating allotments for procurement of instructional materials is on its way to the Governor
  • HB 2162 by Rep. Dutton (K-3 diagnostic testing and tutoring) relating to reading instruction, assessment instruments, and interventions provided to public school students were left pending in the Senate Education Committee and died due to lack of action 
  • HB 4363 by Rep. Kuempel relating to the establishment of a scholarship program for aspiring classroom teachers passed both the House and Senate 
Tags: Basic Allotment education savings accounts school finance school funding school safety teacher advocacy Teacher Workforce voucher vouchers hurt

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